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Full text of "Valedictory to the graduating class of the Philadelphia College of Dental Surgery : delivered in the Musical Fund Hall, February 28, 1854"

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Philadelphia Dental College, Feb. 20th, 1854. 
To Professor E. Tovmstnd, M. D. 

Dear Sir :- At a meeting of the Graduating Class, the undersigned were appointed 
a committee to request of you a copy of your « Valedictory Address" for publication 
\omt compliance with this request will greatly oblige the entire Class. 
Yours, respectfully, 


JOHN R. RUBENCAME, } Committee. 


St. Mark's Place, 380 Locust Street, Feb. 21, 1854. 
Gentlemen :— I am honored in the receipt of your favor of yesterday, requesting 
a copy of my Valedictory for publication, in compliance with which I place the 
manuscript at your disposal. Very respectfully, yours, 

To Dhs. Isaiah Price, ) 

John R. Rubencame, i Committee. 
B. Cohen, j 


Gentlemen : — The ceremonial of the evening formally admits you 
to the honors of the Doctorate in Dentistry. The term of your pupil- 
age is closed ; your diplomas certify your right legitimately to prac- 
tice and teach your profession, and the duties and authority of the 
Faculty which has conferred your well-earned Degrees terminate with 
the act which places the pupil in the rank of technical equality with 
his teacher. In the name of the Faculty and of the Profession, I bid 
you welcome, and exchange with you the cordial embrace of profes- 
sional fraternity 

Suppressing the expression of those personal regrets that necessarily 
attend the severance of ties which have bound us together in our colle- 
giate relations, as much because they do not admit of adequate utte- 
rance, as because they are compensated by the pleasures of those still 
higher and worthier, though less intimate connections, which are now 
established between us, allow me to address you these, our last linger- 
ing words, in the altered tone of the new functions and responsibilities 
which you this evening assume to the profession and to the world. 

Of that second, self-education now to commence with you, I have- 
little to say. The instructions already delivered from the several 
chairs upon which you have attended, must serve both for communicat- 
ing what we had to teach and directing you in the method of what 
you still have to learn. Systematic education in Dentistry does not ter- 
minate in confessions and apologies for incapability to effect its intention. 
It does not frustrate its own design by cramming its graduates with 
a chaos of theories to the suffocation of the intellect. It does not 
crowd the science of half a dozen professions into the programme of a 
single novitiate. Nor does it so sever the discipline of practice from 
the study of principles as to leave the alumni of its schools in the help- 
lessness of inexperience at the outset of their independent career. 
Fortunately for you, the change from the stage of preparatory study to 
that of responsible practice, under our method, is as nothing com- 
pared with the compound profession of Medicine and Surgery, into 
which the Degree of Doctor of Medicine plunges the untrained dis- 
disciple of the general healing art. Having finished our professional 


prelections and ascertained your proficiency by tests that are not mere 
abstractions, and cannot be illusory, we can, in the strictest justice of 
application, say to you, when we send you out to the warfare of life, 
" Walk by the same rule, and mind the same thing whereto you have 
already attained." 

Our specialty in the healing art has such balance, adjustment and 
relation among its elements, and so happily illustrates and verifies its 
theory in its practice throughout the whole period of study, that we 
are not obliged to adopt the fashionable valedictory warning which 
announces to the terrified graduates that " they are now only indoc- 
trinated in the facts and principles of their study, and cannot be said 
to have fairly commenced to learn their profession, until they have 
entered its practice." You, gentlemen, in your public study, as well 
as under your private preceptors, have been trained and instructed to 
a fair, practical proficiency in every department of the calling which 
your diplomas declare you competent to undertake. We need, (here- 
fore, at the moment of parting say to you nothing but go forward in 
the work of self-development. Whether in the conduct of your continued 
studies, or in the fulfilment of the varied duties before you, we have 
but one word to utter — persevere. As we have hitherto conducted 
you, so we for the future direct you. We know nothing before you 
that need surprise you. We know of nothing lying in wait for you 
that is not fully provided for in the teachings already imparted. We 
take leave to say, that we have not turned you out of our hands Doc- 
tors of Parchment — Dentists in expectancy, or peradventure, but we 
pronounce you Dentists now — worthy of the title, and ready for use. 
I do not say that the growth of manhood and old age does not lie out 
in long-drawn perspective before you, but I say that you have reached 
your professional majority in the qualifications of your art ; in a word, 
that you are not so many collegiate grubs, waiting for your wings till 
they are grown by the tedious and painful metamorphosis of future 
experience. Your system of study, both in method and appliances, is 
an actual matter of fact anticipation of future practice ; and, if any of 
you have the slough of the chrysalis yet to cast, it is either because you, 
or we, or both, have been delinquent in our duty ; it is not an intrin- 
sic fault in the policy of dental education. The method of study, the 
direction of principles, and the drill of practice, you will bear us wit- 
ness, have run current with, and been incorporated in, all our teach- 
ings, in such inter-dependency that you are well assured to-day of the 
pathway that will lead you onward toward the attainment of your future 
aims, and guide you safely to their eventual achievement. Nothing 


loss than this would answer the promise and the trust implied in the 
contract entered into between us. You carry with you from these 
halls the certificate of the Faculty that you have well and honorably 
performed your part of the eugagement, and, we trust you very confi- 
dently, to demonstrate to the world the fulfilment of the pledge upon 
our part. Yesterday, gentlemen, you were our pupils, but to day you 
take rank and fellowship with us in our common profession ; and, lay- 
ing aside the claims, with the duties and relations of preceptor and 
pupil, let us turn together for a moment to the consideration of some 
of those interests and responsibilities which have now become our 
mutual and equal concern as members of the profession. 

Dentistry is usually spoken of as a branch of the great healing art, 
but, in point of fact, it has grown, not out of the stem, but up from the 
root of the tree of remedial science, and as it has not sprung from, so 
it does not depend upon the older trunk, but stands beside it, deriving 
its separate nutrition from the same soil indeed, yet by the independent 
energies of its own vitality. Hitherto, in fact, it has been indebted 
rather for shadow than sunshine to the eldei--born growth. A thrifty 
sapling it has proved, with roots and branches of its own ; distinct in 
its vital economy, though kindred in origin ; distinct, also, in its for- 
tunes, and necessarily so in the conditions and policy of its culture. 
Moreover, it has already so far matured, that it is full time for it to be 
set out by itself for larger room to grow and ripen its proper fruits. 

Doctor of Dental Surgery is a comparatively new patent of nobility 
in the heraldry of science, and necessarily institutes the relations and 
duties of a new order in the diplomatic ranks. To this service we have 
pledged a generous devotion. We have enlisted in the regular army 
of advance, and the consciousness that its fortunes must be vitally 
affected by our conduct in the field, cannot fail to fire the zeal, and 
steady the fidelity due to the cause. 

What does it ask at our hands ; and how shall we best answer its 
<rreat demands ? 

Yery rapidly and successfully, yet still very recently, the profession 
has advanced from the sheer chaos of impiricism to the form and order 
of a regularly systematic art ; so founded upon principles, and so jus- 
tified by experience, as entitles it to the character of an integral 
science. It has also richly provided itself with the apparatus and 
method of future growth and progressive achievement. Already we 
are in possession of elementary treatises in every department of the 
atudy ; we have an able periodical literature, and colleges for thorough 
and comprehensive education are springing up with a rapidity and a 


capability almost equal to the demands of the times. We have so well 
advanced in the transition stage of our progress, if not quite passed it, 
that the elements of a permanent order are rapidly arraying themselves 
into the most efficient forms. 

Our duties are determined by these favorable conditions, and our 
obligations proportionately enhanced by the resulting facility of their 
performance. The duties before us, it seems to me, may be best 
understood by dividing them into two concurrent, but distinct branches. 
The first and most direct is the improvement of the profession by all 
the aid which it is in our power to contribute ; and the second, the 
equal obligation which lies upon us to repress and eradicate the remain- 
ing irregularity and unworthiness that still attaches to the fraternity. 

The duties under the first division, which I have placed first, because 
they lie nearest home, and are first in rank and importance to the 
objects aimed at, fall for the most part within the regular range of that 
self-culture and self-improvement, which concern our individual interests 
most narrowly considered. 

Whatever we can do to render our art most helpful to our patients 
will best serve to enhance the character of the profession, and to raise 
the standard of its public estimation. In the proportion that we illus- 
trate its dignity and demonstrate its utility in our own practice and 
conduct, we will have advanced the requirements that the publie will 
make upon all who, in our own neighborhood, make claims to profi- 
ciency in our science. To the extent that we shall be able to indicate 
a clear superiority, we will have established a reforming criticism over 
the pretensions, and a corrective influence over the practice, of inferior 
men. The legitimate, the best mode of exposing the darkness around 
you is, by the brightness of the light you shed into it, and the happy 
advantage of this method is, that while it exposes, it also dispels it. 
But beside this, and a little beyond it, there is the duty we owe to the 
profession at large, of contributing, by word and deed, by care and 
service, to the efficiency and success of all the means that are unavail- 
able, especially all those that are already provided, for the liberal 
education of the men who are hereafter to fill our places. The respon- 
sibilities resting upon you in this behalf embrace several very import- 
ant particulars. I can only glance at them now, and commend them 
to the fuller consideration which they deserve from you. The private 
education of pupils in dentistry is a high and responsible trust 
necessarily incident to the doctorate of the profession. Upon every 
capable practitioner in the country, this duty rests with imposing force; 
but you, by all your commitments, are especially pledged to its 


worthiest performance. Collegiate faculties are not the only, nor even 
the most important agents in this function. Doctor of Dentistry 
literally means teacher of the art, and you use, in your private capa- 
cities, the primary, and by no means the least important functionaries 
of the educational faculty. 

You are aware that the college whose honors you have won, insists 
upon an adequate private preceptorship as a condition of graduation. 
Its importance to the individual you understand too well to need any 
enforcement from me ; but I cannot let this opportunity pass without 
pressing upon you the expectation that you will, in this matter, fully 
second and zealously forward the general effort to elevate the standard 
of regular study, and generously devote yourselves to the discharge of 
your own share of this honorable service. In your own judgment, there 
is no question of the indispensable necessity of a thorough preliminary 
study in the principles of the profession. There results from this con- 
viction, therefore, the corresponding duty of indoctrinating all those 
within your influence, who propose to enter the profession with the 
soundest views of its requirements, and of providing for your own 
pupils all the facilities, and devoting to them all the care, that are 
necessary to the fullest acquirements. 

Your offices and work-rooms, your libraries of elementary books, 
and your supply of our periodical publications should be provided with 
liberal completeness, and your personal instructions must be most fully 
and conscientiously afforded. 

The applicant depends upon your judgment for the knowledge of his 
proper qualifications. Be faithful to him and to the profession in this. 
See that he has the mind, and the general education that qualifies him 
for the study. See that habits of study, as well as application to prac- 
tical operations, are justly regarded. Let the idea that the profession 
is a learned and a liberal one rule the conduct of the pupil, and your 
conduct toward him. Keep steadily before him the connection of all 
the departments of physical and remedial science which our own 
involves and depends upon, for its completeness and for its further 

Allow me to say to you in the most emphatic manner, that we look 
to you for the best services which you can render to the cause of pre- 
paratory education, with a solicitude and a confidence second to none 
that we have in any of the agencies in existence for the reformation and 
development of our noble profession ; and, we charge you, by every 
consideration of duty, honor, and ambition, that you fail us not in 
this grand hope of our enterprise. 


The preceptor engaged in the onerous duties of his practice is under 
great temptations of convenience and of interest to slight his duty to 
his pupils ; nay, it is only at considerable sacrifice that he can fully 
perform it. But this, for its importance to the common interests of 
the Faculty and of the community, is exactly the service that is 
exacted from him. Perform it in the spirit of your calling ; perform 
it in the fulfilment of your public pledge, effectually, religiously, and 
your reward will be the consciousness that you have well deserved the 
rank you have assumed in a liberal fraternity ; neglect it, and the 
reproach of delinquency to the highest trust will outweigh all the plea- 
sure and pride of the largest selfish, successes. 

The standard and periodical publicatiens, devoted to our art, have 
unquestionable claims upon your support. Every dentist, worthy of 
the name, should consider himself an agent for their circulation, and 
a contributor, by implied contract, to their stores of information. 
Every liberal profession, as much as that of religion, has, besides its 
sanctity to be guarded, its interests and usefulness to be promoted- 
The lawyer, the physician, the naturalist, the dentist, is a sort of priest 
of his order, and owes to it the required fidelity, sacrifice aud service. 
The philosophers of Greece exacted a sacramental vow from the disci- 
ples whom they initiated into the mysteries of their Schools. Hippo- 
crates administered an oath to the adepts of the healing art. I will 
read it to you, both for the curiosity and the instructive suggestions it 
contains : 

" I swear by Apollo, the Physician, by iEsculapius, by Hygiea, by 
Panacea, and all the gods and goddesses, calling them to witness, that 
I will fulfil religiously, according to the best of my power and judg- 
ment, the solemn promise, and the written bond which I now do make : 
I, will honor as my parents the master who has taught me this art, and 
endeavor to minister to all his necessities : I will consider his children 
as my brothers, and will teach them my profession, should they express 
a desire to follow it, without remuneration or written bond. I will 
admit to my lessons, my discourses, and all my other methods of teach- 
ing, my own sons, and those of my tutors, and those who have been 
inscribed as pupils and have taken the medical oath, and no one else. 
I will prescribe such a course of medicine as may be best suited to the 
constitution of my patients, according to the best of my power and 
judgment, seeking to preserve them from anything that might prove 
injurious. No inducement shall ever lead me to administer poision, 
nor will I be the author of such advice. I will maintain religiously 
the purity and integrity, both of my conduct and my art. Into what- 


ever dwellings I may go, I will enter them with the sole view of suc- 
couring the sick. If, during my attendance, or even unprofessionally 
in common life, I happen to hear of any circumstances which should 
not be revealed, I will consider them a profound secret, and observe 
on the subject a religious silence. May I, if I religiously observe this my 
oath, and do not break it, enjoy good success in life, and in the prac- 
tice of my art, and obtain general esteem forever. Should I transgress 
and become a perjurer, may the reverse be my lot." 

Now, whatever the altered circumstances of the times have made 
obsolete and inapplicable in this grand summary of professional obliga- 
tions, the principles which it recognizes are of perpetual obligation. 
None of them could be better presented, and some of them I might not 
have chosen to express ; but there is a parity of conditions which will 
not fail to warrant their application to ourselves, our relation to each 
other, to our calling, to our patients and to the public. But espe- 
cially are the sanctity and the devotedness of the order to which these 
principles of conductf, and these sentiments of fraternity apply, as well 
in our cases as in any other, well worthy of acceptance and observance. 
Our young profession demands of us equal ardor of service, and equal 
jealousy of defence, as medicine did in the distant age of its early 
infancy : above all things, it needs the spirit and corporate enthusiasm, 
and priestly purity, and sacredness of dedication that correspond to its 
divine origin and beneficent aims. The idea that I would enforce here 
must be obvious enough, and sufficiently warranted by its practical 
results, but I am tempted to strike the thought still deeper to the 
grand principle upon which it rests. 

History testifies that every upward movement among men has been 
effected through the spirit of corporate asssociation. 

The orders of nobility, knighthood, priesthood, medicine, law, fellow- 
ships in liberal learning, and the less formal, but equivalent etiquette 
of rank in social life, teach, unmistakably, that the policy of distinctive 
degrees is inseparable from culture and progress. That labor, which, 
in itself, is as honorable as any other, but is still degraded, dependent 
and oppressed, is so, simply because it lacks the organization and the 
protective sacredness of fraternity and corporate enthusiasm. Every 
function by which the world's interests are served, is equally honora- 
ble intrinsically, but none become free, efficient and honored, till its 
members recognize their unity, interchange its sympathies, support its 
common interests, and defend its distinctive rights and honors. I do not 
need to say to you that I recommend no selfish conspiracy, no superci- 


lious exclusiveness of caste, with a monopoly of honors and emolu- 
ments for its aims, and invidious means for their attainment. 

It is not the maintenance of a party, but the promotion of progress, 
that is intended as the object of your ambition ; and only such measures, 
offensive and defensive, as comport with the most generous public ends, 
and are compelled by liberal and enlightened policy. Such conduct, 
in a word, in every thing as makes a prudent man better and wiser by 
the observance, and operates by replacing abuses with general bene- 
fits. These motives will direct us also most wisely and worthily in our 
dealings with the empiricism or quackery which still deforms the pro- 
fession, and with the public opinions and prejudices which sustain it. 
I do not like the word empiric, and would be very cautious in its 
application. Literally, the word signifies no more than one who makes 
experiments ;. by custom it is applied to one who enters the medical 
profession without a systematic education, and relies solely upon the 
teachings of his own experience. The censure which the term is in- 
tended to convey, is certainly not deserved by a practitioner of our 
art, who in defect of all opportunity for regular and best methods of 
professional study has depended upon his own industry and talent for 
such qualification as he could thereby attain to. We stand too near 
the time when dentists must have been self-made, or not made at all ; 
and we have too many examples among us of honorable and enviable 
distinction thus acquired, to be rash in applying the reproach which a 
better order of things now leaves without excuse. The honorary 
degress conferred by our young Dental Colleges upon a large number 
of gentlemen in the profession, has been induced by a sentiment of 
simple justice, strengthened, also, by a due modesty in the doctorate 
itself, which could not bear its own titular honors easily in contrast 
with equally deserving men who could not formally, but have equitably, 
earned them. In these circumstances, therefore, gentlemen, it is not 
your parchments simply, but your attainments that should be your 
pride, and this apprehension will dictate the consideration and delicacy 
due to the deserving. An empiric may, nevertheless, be a proficient in 
his art, and a graduate with all the honors may, also, be a mere 

A man is to be measured by his merits, notwithstanding that a 
diploma is prima facia evidence, and a worthy distinction, of character 
and standing. Still it is your duty to repress and discredit unfounded 
pretension by all the means fairly and effectually in your power. This, 
in general, will be best accomplished by fully and decidedly answering 
to every claim of the accomplished and regular professors of our art, 


and by as decidedly refusing to admit those of the unworthy and inca- 
pable. A great advantage — an indispensable one — of the corporate 
organization which we have already urged is, that its honorable recip- 
rocities withheld may act as distinctions and penalties upon ground- 
less pretension. Just as the disciples of Hippocrates were sworn to 
admit to the fraternity, " those who had been inscribed as pupils, had 
taken the medical oath and no one else;" so we are bound to refuse 
fraternity to the irregulars, who repudiate the essential obligations of 
the profession, and discredit its name. We do not expect, and I do 
not think we desire quack laws of the legislature to repress abuses, 
but we require quack tests established by ourselves, and well received 
by the community, by which they may be speedily and certainly extir- 
pated. This is our proper duty, we must address ourselves to it, and 
the means within our command are, in general terms, the improvement 
of the system of private tutorship, the active support of the collegiate 
system, now fast rising into confidence among us ; the liberal encour- 
agement of our periodical publications, the organization of efficient 
dental associations among practitioners for their mutual improvement 
and protection, in every district where such parliaments of progress are 
practicable, and also the decided establishment of all those distinctions 
which serve to certify character and standing among ourselves, and 
instruct the public judgment in deciding upon professional pretensions. 

These things, and all which they include, we would press upon your 
consideration and commend to your hearty observance. The profes- 
sion, to adopt the battle orders of Lord Nelson, " expects every man 
to do his duty." To you is assigned the post of honor, and we will 
not allow ourselves to doubt your worthiness of the trust, or your 
fidelity and efficiency in performing it. 

There is a moral chivalry, nobler in tone, pitch and purpose, because 
more benificent, than that of arms. Are you baptized with its spirit, 
capable of its service, devoted to its achievements? Then you will 
exert its energies, and secure and enjoy its victories. 

I began by bidding you welcome to your professional honors. I 
close by committing you to the divine care in your public duties and 
personal destiny. — Farewell. 






1. Horton Bailey, 

2. William Calvert, 
8. Firman Coar, 

4. Alexander G. Coffin, 

5. E. H. Cogburn, 

6. Benjamin Cohen, 

7. Samuel W. Frazer, 

8. William Gorges, 

9. Eri W. Haines, 

10. W. StorerHow, 

11. Louis Jack, 

12. Bernard J. Laughlin, 

13. C. Newlin Pierce, 

14. Isaiah Price, 

15. David Roberts, 

16. John M. Rothrock, 

17. John R. Rubencame, 

18. Thomas H. Shaw, 

19. James Truman, 







Pennsylvania, ] 

N. Carolina, 




Preserving the Teeth. 

Dental Caries. 

Neuralgia Facia. 

Caries and Treatment. 

Filling Teeth. 

Saliva and Salivary Calculus. 

On Arsenic. 

Pivot Teeth. 

Mechanical Dentistry. 

Mutations of the Inferior Maxillary Bone. 

Remote Causes of Predisposition to Dental 

Treatment of Dental Pulp. 

Temporary Teeth. 

Fracture of the Inferior Maxillary. 


Filling Teeth. 

The Preparation of Gold and Silver for 
Dental Purposes. 

Caries of the Teeth. 

Dental Caries.